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Mining Convention Crashed

Vigil held for those killed for opposing mining companies

by Tim Groves

Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner
Allan Lissner

[para leer la version en Espanol haz click aqui:]

On March 9th, 25 protesters held a vigil for community leaders in Latin America killed by mining companies, across the street from one of the largest mining conferences in the world, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention. They held up photos of several Central American activist who were killed for their role in opposing Canadian mining companies. At the End of the vigil they marched through the convention centre chanting anti-mining slogans.


“We are gathered here to try to speak for the people who don't have a voice inside this convention” said Rosa Noyola, from the Latin American Solidarity Network. She then proceed to name community leaders who had been killed for opposing mining projects, and named the companies she felt were responsible for their deaths. “we are extremely worried for the lives of the leaders and communities that are victims of the policy of complicity and demand an investigation into these murders and a stop to these atrocities.”


Large photos of murdered community leaders from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala were held up by the activists. During speeches they spoke out against Canadian mining companies including Blackfire, Pacific Rim, and Barrick Gold.


“Over 70% of mining companies are based out of Canada. This indicates that our government has made Canada a place of impunity as they are unwilling to hold these companies accountable for their actions.” said Susan Caxaj, a member of Community Solidarity Response Toronto, the group that organized the event. 

"Today, Gold Corp is scheduled to give a talk on ensuring free prior and informed consent for local communities. What kind of world do we live in where a company like Gold Corp provides counsel to other mining companies on how to protect the human rights of local communities? We are talking about a company who has repeatedly shown that they have little respect for local communities' human rights - particularly, their right to say no."


The PDAC convention was held in the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the same venue that will hold the G20 summit next June. The convention had thousands of attendees. Those who saw the vigil mostly look baffled. Their opinions of it were mixed. “Its horrible when anyone is killed, mining has a bad repor with people around the world” said one. Another was less supportive “I don't think has killed half as many people as the Iraq war”


One member of the vigil had been holding up signs across from the convention center since the convention began on Friday March 5th. He said that on Sunday March 7th he was “Joined by 40 flag-waving members of USW Local 6500, Sudbury, on strike against Vale Inco.”


Vigil held on the 9th lasted for one and a half hours. When it was over, most of the participants marched into the convention center chanting “Canadian Mining Blood on Your Hands!” When they realized that they were not being stopped by security they rode up three flights of escalators and made their way from the South Building of the convention center on Bremner St. to the North Building on Front St. Passing several hundred conference attendees as they marched. After reaching Front Street the small but vocal group dispersed.    

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Tim Groves (Tim Groves)
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546 words


A very one-sided and un-substantiated view of mining

This is more of a poorly informed opinion piece than an article.

First - the protesters didn't "crash" the convention - the public is welcome at it, that is why they weren't stopped.

Second - to tackle a few of the points
- no Canadian mining company has been proven to have killed anyone, and I don't believe that any Canadian mining company would come anywhere close to doing such a thing. I have worked in the mining industry for 20 years, the people I have met and worked with are good people.

- Canadian mining companies do not act with "impunity". They work under Canadian laws, and the locals laws of countries they operate in - also, any financing that Canadian companies receive from the Canadian government, development banks, and most commercial banks, require that their operations be in compliance with all these laws and that they follow codes of conduct. It is a myth that there is no oversight.

- mining has an impact on land and communities, so it is often controversial, but we all use and need what is mined. Susan Caxaj says GoldCorp ignores the community saying no - they have not. Most of the people in communities GoldCorp works in welcome them, and the jobs and economic development they bring. There is one community where some anti-mining / anti-development groups say GoldCorp has ignored "referendums" saying no to mining - but these supposed referendums have been showings of hands in meetings run by anti-mining groups with vague questions like "do you want the tortilla or the snake" - they then report the result as no to mining and try to shut-down the jobs. True - GoldCorp does not accept that there has been an "informed" decision against mining by that community. (I do not work for GoldCorp)

- lastly, isn't it a bit ironic that USW Local 6500, Sudbury, who have been on strike against their Brazilian employer for months (Vale Inco is Brazilian) come to protest against Canadian mining companies ?

The truth about mining, and the benefits it brings the developing world, requires more information than what the protesters are saying.

Your side is not very balanced either

Mining operations coming into impoverished areas can be problematic, especially in conflict and post-conflict zones. The financial benefits that come from such a project tend to incentivize the business and political elite to support the projects. This creates conflict with those who depend on the land for survival and believe that there is only potential harm in the project for them. You might call this divergence in risk-benefit analysis. In post-conflict zones and states characterezed by impunity, this can result in violent conflict, intimidation, murder, etc.

The international guidelines you refer to do help to some extent; however, they also provide a convenient format for reporting firm behaviour. This is especially true when IFC funding comes in after the fact, and firms have to prove that their earlier actions fit with IFC mandated practices. So, report what happened in a post hoc manner and make it fit the guidelines: boom, IFC loan.

Also the "referendum" you refer to or consulta was carried out in a culturally appropriate way, following local traditions. It wasn't all show of hands. Some communities used secret ballot, other used public lists. Glamis/Goldcorp dubbed these locally appropriate methods as invalid because they didn't fallow western norms. And if you remember, there were variance in the results. Furthermore, if the people that were involved in the consulta process were uninformed, then how could the firm have ever claimed that the consultation process was "informed"? The simple fact of the matter is that very few if any of the locals had the ability to understand the intricacies of a modern mining operation. So "informed" consultations would be pretty hard to pull of prior to mining operations.







Sure, the Canadian executives are not the ones who actually pull the trigger. Maybe, just maybe, they are not aware of what their employees are carrying out. In the case of Blackfire in Mexico, where Mariano Abarca was murdered, two of the three people in jail for his killing were employees of the mine. How much more proof do you need?

If there is enough oversight and legislation in Canada, I ask you to provide a single example where Canadian law has been used to bring justice to families like the Abarca family or others.

Your reference to the tortilla in the case of Guatemala makes it obvious that you have been reading reports prepared by people like Jim Radar. He invented that notion, and it is false. Spend some time in the communities and you'll figure that out pretty damn quick.

Finally, I don't think there is much irony in the USW case. Just because their employer is now Brazilian doesn't mean that Canadian companies do no harm. Nor does it mean that if a Canadian company doing harm was sold to a company based somewhere else, there would suddenly be a dramatic change in business practices.

Just sayin'.



mining unwittingly compared to war

Fantastic quote: "I don't think [mining] has killed half as many people as the Iraq war.”

Two Miners assassinated in Southern Bolivar, Colombia.

Public Announcement to National and International CommunitiesContinued extermination against FEDEAGROMISBOLTwo miners of FEDEAGROMISBOL assassinated in Southern Bolivar ProvinceRead full announcement at this blog: Stories from colombiaThese killings are part of a long chain of aggression against the people of southern Bolivar, much like the murder of Alejandro Uribe Chac√≥n on 19 September 2006 and many others. In the present context, these acts present what we consider a comprehensive strategy to plunder the territory by a macabre alliance between the national government and multinationals, such as gold company Anglo Gold Ashanti and oil palm company Daabon whom are attempting to seize the natural resources in Southern Bolivar province.6. We hold the Colombian State responsible for these events in that they have refused to continue dialogue with communities in the south of Bolivar in the La Mesa de Interlocucion and/or Southern Bolivar Roundtable for Dialogue and to the contrary they have continued militarizing the region and openly allowing paramilitary groups to function.

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